Empire Falls (2005)
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Episode #1.1 

Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt and Paul Newman lead an all-star cast in this two-part miniseries event based on Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. A declining New ... See full summary »


Fred Schepisi


Richard Russo (novel)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Harris ... Miles Roby
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Charlie Mayne
Helen Hunt ... Janine Roby
Paul Newman ... Max Roby
Robin Wright ... Grace Roby (as Robin Wright Penn)
Aidan Quinn ... David Roby
Joanne Woodward ... Francine Whiting
Dennis Farina ... Walt Comeau
William Fichtner ... Jimmy Minty
Estelle Parsons ... Bea
Theresa Russell ... Charlene
Kate Burton ... Cindy Whiting
Jeffrey DeMunn ... Horace
Trevor Morgan ... Zack Minty
Danielle Panabaker ... Tick Roby


Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt and Paul Newman lead an all-star cast in this two-part miniseries event based on Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. A declining New England town is the setting for this humorous, poignant drama about local residents whose lives are inexorably connected by dying industry, class differences and ghosts of the past. At the center of the story is Miles Roby (Harris), an Empire Falls inhabitant for whom the promising opportunities of youth have yielded to the demands of family and the domineering shadow of the woman who owns the restaurant he runs. Unable to escape, Miles learns to cope with his troubles while piecing together some surprising revelations from the past. Robin Wright Penn, Aidan Quinn and Joanne Woodward co-star. Directed by Fred Schepisi; screenplay by Richard Russo.

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Drama | Romance



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User Reviews

Episode 1
27 June 2020 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

Empire Falls is a sprawling novel from Richard Russo. The first episode of this HBO adaptation paints a picture of a small town dominated by the wealthy Whiting family. There is also a river that serves as a metaphor for life.

The male Whiting's had money but married poorly. Their wives made life a misery for them

Empire Falls is in decline, the factories have shut down. Francine Whiting (Joanne Woodward) is the wealthy widow who throws out crumbs to the townsfolk.

One of them is Miles Roby (Ed Harris) a placid man who manages the diner Francine owns. When she dies he will get to own it.

Miles seems unambitious and content. Someone who wants to avoid the highs and lows of life. A placid man who never truly loved his ex wife Janine (Helen Hunt.) She is finding excitement after losing weight with an older man.

However Miles is haunted by childhood memories regarding his late mother and an affair she had with a wealthy suitor in Martha's Vineyard one summer.

Miles father Max (Paul Newman) is a wastrel always looking for a handout.

The first part of Empire Falls has a starry cast and it does not take long to work out who is who thanks to the narrator. It feels like a novel that has come to the screen and rather faithful to the source material.

You do sense that something is being held back, the episode is hinting at something as that is more to do with the character Philip Seymour Hoffman plays.

The weak link was surprisingly Paul Newman. His character of Max was similar to the one he played in film's such as Nobody's Fool. Only to find out that movie was by the same author. Maybe Newman should ha played a different character.

The casting of Harris means that somewhere along the line, Miles will flip sooner or later.

There are several subplots such as the arrogant high school jock who is bullying a poor kid who has a history of abuse. That part of the story did not work for me too well. Just too many stereotypes of US high school kids. The jock is a foul mouthed jerk and is the ex boyfriend of Miles daughter.

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Release Date:

28 May 2005 (USA) See more »

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